As standard procedure, Mayor Rob Ware opened the floor for public comment following the call to order, and Haney was the first to rise and speak.
Haney told council members that following Monday’s meeting, about 30 citizens gathered at the Haney home and formed a Cave Spring citizens committee.
“A number of citizens were quite dissatisfied and very disappointed in the actions of the council members of this city,” he told council members. “We feel that in many instances, members use their decisions not in the best interest of the city but by making decisions based on personal whim, personal feeling. And that’s inappropriate; it’s not good for city government.”
Haney said based on a long course of patterns of action, the citizens felt the inappropriate behavior had risen to an intolerable level and that Littlejohn had unfairly targeted the Waterclub.
“We are moving forth a petition to enact a resolution, a referendum to remove Councilwoman Mary Littlejohn from her post as city councilwoman,” he said. “State law defines exactly what must be done. It’s long, it’s drawn out, and I want everyone to know this plays out in a public forum.”
The City Council decided in a 3 to 1 vote Monday to suspend the alcohol license of the Waterclub, a local restaurant, for three days.
Littlejohn and Councilman Ken Landers said Monday that on more than one occasion they witnessed the violation of three ordinances that state the restaurant cannot advertise their sale of alcohol outside, that customers cannot consume alcohol outside and that the restaurant cannot serve alcohol after 10 p.m.
Citizens felt, Haney said, that there was no concrete evidence that the Waterclub violated the ordinances.
“Yesterday was a hearing about supposed city ordinance violations from the Waterclub, and there was no evidence of any of it,” Haney said after the meeting. “Our feeling was it was personal, and this sort of thing goes on all the time in this little town by some of the members of City Council.”
At the citizens committee meeting, Haney said participating locals came to the conclusion that “the actions of Councilwoman Littlejohn have been so egregious that they violated a number of things pertaining to the conduct of her office. We voted in our committee to move forward with a petition of recall to remove her from office.”
Haney declined to go into detail about what Littlejohn allegedly did in the weeks leading up to the Waterclub’s alcohol license suspension, saying that it could only be discussed in a public forum.
Attempts to reach Littlejohn, who left immediately following the meeting, for comment were unsuccessful, but Ware said it was the citizens’ right to initiate a recall if they felt it was necessary.
“It’s up to the people to pursue this, and however it turns out, it turns out,” he said.
Littlejohn was the only council member up for election last year who faced a challenger, and she was returned to office with a 53-33 vote.
Ware said he was considering vetoing the council’s decision concerning the restaurant and has until Friday to make a decision.
In other business:
The City Council approved unanimously the purchase of a jackhammer for the water department for $1,050. The water department’s jackhammer was stolen years ago, Ware said.
“We need one because we have to rent them now, and we need to get a good quality jackhammer,” he said.
In final action, Nancy Boehm, chairwoman of the Downtown Development Authority, asked the council to provide funds for the Cave Spring Welcome Center and Museum in order to make it disabled accessible and to repair the bathroom.
This would include adding handrails to the porch as well as building a ramp.
Boehm told council members the center’s bathroom floor caved in, and a wall fell out. The other walls, she said, had suffered years of water damage.
The council unanimously approved taking $4,500 from the motel/hotel tax, and the contractor who will do the repairs will be Jesse Hamrick.
Click here to see a previous report about the Waterclub’s alcohol license.